From The Guardian:
“My Eye on You marks the return of a character from Mitchell’s Booker prize-longlisted novel The Bone Clocks, describing how the critic Richard Cheeseman turns away from a desperate plan to revenge himself on the ageing novelist Crispin Hershey and discovers an ability to shift the flow of time.”
If you haven’t read The Bone Clocks (what are you waiting for?) fair warning, there are spoilers ahead!
Cheeseman is one of eventual-Anchorite Hugo Lamb’s Cambridge buddies. We don’t get to spend much time with him in the book, but we’re told Cheeseman scores his first paid byline courtesy of the Piccadilly Review and Felix. (Felix Finch, to you plebs.) It’s a 1,200-word book review of — what else? — Crispin Hershey’s Desiccated Embryos.
Cheeseman, an aspiring novelist himself, calls Hershey “a gifted stylist,” but says Finch’s praise is “premature.” WARNING: From here the real spoilers start!
When Hershey releases a “comeback” novel some years later, Cheeseman’s review in Piccadilly is much less charitable: “I tried my utmost to find something, anything, in Crispin Hershey’s long-awaited novel to dilute its trepanning awfulness. … To dub Echo Must Die ‘infantile, flatulent, ghastly drivel’ would be an insult to infants, to flatulence, and to ghasts alike.”
Although Hershey is incensed — he refers to Cheeseman as a “six foot wide, corduroy-clad, pubic-bearded rectal probe” — he’s publicly magnanimous when he bumps into a nervous Cheeseman at a book festival in Colombia. Later, he swipes Cheeseman’s hotel room key card, slips a small bag of cocaine into the lining, and rings up customs to tip them off to a cocaine-carrying literary critic who will be coming through Bogota’s airport.
Hershey thinks he’ll embarrass Cheeseman, or cause him minor legal troubles at worst, but when Cheeseman ends up in one of Colombia’s infamous prisons, Hershey’s wracked by guilt. Worse, Cheeseman later makes it clear that he knows Hershey’s the one who set him up.
All in all, it sounds like the new short story could serve up a juicy bit of revenge and should be a fun read for anyone who enjoyed The Bone Clocks.
If you live in or near London, congratulations — you have until April 10 to head on over to the Stolen Space Gallery, where My Eye On You is part of an art exhibit by Kai and Sunny. After receiving a print from the duo, Mitchell says he was inspired to “try to visit the head of a person who is endowed with a kind of ‘temporal hotspot’ which means their own personal time moves at a different velocity to everyone else’s. A character from my last big novel, The Bone Clocks, applied for the job, and he was the perfect candidate. The story grew to about 2,500 words – longer than my previous two Kai and Sunny stories combined – but stories have their own right length that a writer can’t do much about.”
Now you’re asking, Yeah, but where can I find it? Or as a Guardian commenter puts it: “Is it going to be possible for us proles to read this or is it only available in the print run of 25?” At this point, it looks like visiting the exhibit is the only way to read the story, but if that changes, we’ll update accordingly.